With the launch of Google Pay in the UAE last month, consumers now have a wide variety of digital wallet options.
What is a digital wallet? Well, the answer can vary from app to app, but in general, digital wallets allow users to securely pay bills, retailers, or even their friends using only their mobile phone.
To help you sort this out, we’ve made a list of the top digital wallets available in the UAE.
Apple Pay is — obviously — the payment system put together by Apple. It runs on iOS and Mac devices, as well as in the Safari web browser. Apple Pay requires you to input your credit card details into your phone, a process that requires your bank’s verification.
How do you use it? You double-tap the side button, enter your password (or use Apple’s facial recognition software or its fingerprint scanner), and you’re done. At a pay point, tap your phone to a contactless card reader, and once you hear the ‘ding,’ you’re finished. Move on with your busy life. FYI, there is a similar process for using Apple Pay online and in apps.
Is it secure? Despite the fact that Apple requires you to enter your details, it does not store your credit card information. Instead, Apple uses a token, which is a device-specific code. Apple Pay also requires you to use a passcode, facial recognition, or a fingerprint scan for verification during each purchase.
Apple Pay does have an option for sending money to other people, but this option is currently unavailable in the UAE.
Google Pay, also known as G Pay, is the digital wallet platform and online payment system developed by Google. The Google Pay system works similarly to Apple Pay, but the advantage to Google is that just about everyone can use it. While Apple Pay works only on Apple devices, G Pay works on both Android and iOS. It also works in numerous apps and websites.
Google’s physical security options vary. The platform definitely requires a passcode, but its ability to use a fingerprint scan or facial recognition software will depend of the device you’re using.
Samsung Pay, developed by the South Korean electronics giant to work on a number of its devices, was introduced in the UAE in April 2017.
Like Apple Pay, it works with contactless card readers. The set-up process is similar to Google and Apple, but one advantage of Samsung Pay is that it works with card readers that still rely on magnetic strips, which are the majority of card readers available at retailers in the UAE.
Beam is one of the older digital wallets on the market and has been in operation in the UAE since 2012. Unlike most other systems available in the country, Beam allows shoppers to earn cash back on their purchases, while paying digitally for items on their phone.
Again — we think you can see the pattern here — you need to add your credit card details to the Beam app, which then uses that information securely when you tap your device to a pay terminal. Beam is just as secure as any of the other payments systems on this list and uses many of the same security procedures.
Beam’s only drawback is the limited number of establishments that accept it, but on the list of merchants that do accept it are petrol stations ENOC and EPPCO.
The company says that it has more than 800,000 users globally.
WePay is a Chinese online payment service provider owned by Tencent.
The WePay Wallet is part of WeChat, China’s equivalent to Twitter, Google, and Facebook all rolled up in a single app. The company signed an agreement with Dubai Tourism to introduce the service in Dubai earlier this year.
WePay has a lot of options, but UAE residents won’t be able to use some of them because the app ties your phone directly to a bank account, which must be in mainland China. However, WePay does accept foreign Visa and MasterCard credit cards, so you can still use it to make payments.
As WePay is just beginning to emerge from China onto the international markets, there are still many unanswered questions. WePay does use the same security features as all the other digital wallets on this list, so payments are secure.
What about all the others?
Yes, there are a LOT of other digital wallets out in the market, and most likely you’ll notice we didn’t include Alipay, which is a popular digital wallet from Alibaba, as well as Microsoft Pay and LG Pay. These wallets have not launched in the UAE yet, but we will keep you updated as they come online.